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Sunday, 26 January 2020


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The first and most interesting note about French Guiana, is well it’s still French, actually it’s a an overseas department and region of France (like state in the USA or County in the UK) and the local currency is the Euro. It is very small at only 35,000 sq miles (83,534 sq km) with a very small population of just a quarter of a million people over half of whom live in Cayenne the capital city.

One of its most notable claims to fame is the European Space Station near the equator and a big economic driver for the small country. The second best known feature is the notorious penal colony of Devils island where 54,000 French prisoners were sent and only 10% survived the harsh conditions. Following the book Papillon by the French onvict Henri Charriere describing his escape, a Hollywood movie has added to the infamy of the former penal island colonies.

Like the other two Guianas, the majority of the population live on a narrow coastal strip as the rest of the country is given over to dense impenetrable rainforest. The country comprises of many rivers, some lower level mountains and several islands.

Average temperatures are 29c (84f) with rainfall being most prolific December through July and on dry season of August to November.

The country is very rich in wildlife and bio diversity due to its small population, lack of major development and variety of bio diversities.

Apart from the Space Station, Fishing is one of the main economic drivers and apart from tourism from France, there is little else in this small nation, though eco tourism is growing fast.

The largest population is the Mulattoes who are mixed French and African, Creoles, Caribs and 14% are from European ancestry. There is a Chinese and Laos community and smaller numbers of East Indians, Lebanese and Viatnamese. In the interior only the Maroon and Amerindian tribes and some other less known tribes are living.

Though French is the obvious choice as franc lingua, there are many dialects and many languages spoken among the large amount of ethnic minorities. Both Head of state and Prime Minister of French Giuana are that of France where a local Prefect is appointed to act on his or her behalf.

There is now paved road access through into Brazil and also by ferry into Suriname helping to develop cross border tourism. It compliments the trip to Guyana and Suriname exceptionally well as the three countries all offer similar colonialist repressive pasts but today all three are exciting, different and a trip to all three is highly recommended.


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